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No Bake Gluten Free and Vegan Protein Bars

No Bake Gluten Free and Vegan Protein Bars

No Bake Gluten Free and Vegan Protein Bars

If you asked me how many protein and/or energy bars I’ve tried, I’d be at a loss. Builder, Luna, Kind, Power Crunch, Lära, Zing, Pro Bar, Amazing Grass, pure, and plenty of others that I can’t remember. There was a period of time where I would find myself at the checkout with 3-5 different brands and flavors. Occasionally, I could almost see the cashier’s confusion in bubble thought form above her head. “Can’t this chick make up her mind?” And no, I couldn’t. I never found one that won me over 100%. 

Then we made our own. Each bite starts with a chewy brownie crust, followed by a thick, creamy, peanut-butter-flavored layer. The light chocolate drizzle and sprinkle of hemp seeds adds a hint of sweetness and a crackling finale to the bars. At 16 grams of protein each, you can consider me a repeat customer.

No Bake Gluten Free and Vegan Protein Bars

No Bake Gluten Free and Vegan Protein Bars

No Bake Gluten Free and Vegan Protein Bars

Two bowls, a food processor, and a parchment-lined baking pan are the only necessities for this recipe. With just a few, fool-proof steps, these come together in under 20 minutes. Chill them for an hour and you’ve got snacks for at least a week’s time.

I admit, I have a soft spot for homemade granola bars,  but these serve another set of needs. Where our granola bars are sweet, fruity, and light, these are hearty, filling, and indulgent [and guilt-free, to boot].

I’m a huge fan of simple recipes, especially when they’re inexpensive. If you have all of the ingredients on hand, this batch of protein bars rounds out at $1-$1.25 per bar [depending on where you live]. Considering the average protein bar costs $2.50, these are a bargain. And when you factor in the cost of all the questionable, mystery ingredients in most store-bought brands, you’re ahead of the game with these homemade bars. 

We like to make ours in an 8×8 baking sheet lined with parchment. That way, after they’re chilled for a bit, the whole slab can easily be lifted out of the pan and cut into bars, squares, bites, or whatever you happen to be craving. I love to portion them into bite-sized bits that I can grab whenever I have a chocolate and/or peanut butter craving.

No Bake Gluten Free and Vegan Protein Bars

Throw one of these into a bag for a midday pick-me-up or a post-workout refuel – unless it’s a super hot day, there’s no need to keep these chilled. For day to day storage, I recommend keeping them in the refrigerator to keep them fresher, longer. I love that, unlike a lot of homemade protein bars, these don’t melt as soon as you take them out of the fridge. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

We’ve got 6 bars left right now. Along with the leftovers of two other recipes, they’re relaxing in the refrigerator, seducing us every time we open the door. Sure, we just gorged ourselves on a shameful amount of pan-roasted brussels sprouts, but is that going to stop us from enjoying a chocolate-laced, protein-packed, peanut-buttery, post-dinner treat? Nope.

No Bake Gluten Free and Vegan Protein BarsNo Bake Gluten Free and Vegan Protein Bars

No Bake Gluten Free and Vegan Protein Bars
 
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Recipe type: Snacks
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Easy, no-bake protein bars – vegan and gluten-free! Chewy brownie crust and thick peanut butter layer, with a chocolate drizzle and hemp-seed topping. 16 grams of protein per bar.
Ingredients
  • Crust:
  • 1½ c. gluten-free oat flour
  • 6 dried apricots
  • ¼ c. cocoa powder
  • ¼ c. brown rice syrup
  • Layer:
  • 1 c. gluten-free oat flour
  • ½ c. gluten-free rolled oats
  • ½ c. vegan chocolate protein powder [we use Garden of Life RAW]
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt
  • 1½ tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1½ tbsp. hulled hemp seeds
  • ½ c. peanut butter or almond butter
  • 1 flax egg [1 tbsp. ground flax + 3 tbsp water, mixed together in a small bowl]
  • ¼ c. agave or raw honey
  • ½ c. + 2 tbsp. coconut milk [from the carton, not can]
  • Topping [optional]:
  • ⅓ c. vegan chocolate chips
  • +/- 1 tbsp. hemp seeds
Instructions
  1. Combine ingredients for crust in the food processor until a crumbly, thick dough forms. Dump into a bowl and set aside for later.
  2. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients for the next layer. Use a fork to mix well.
  3. Combine flax and water in a small bowl, stir, and set aside for a few minutes until it starts to gel.
  4. Add agave or honey, peanut butter, coconut milk, and flax egg to the dry ingredients. Mix roughly using the fork, then add mixture to the food processor.
  5. Blend until the mixture is smooth – adding more coconut milk if it is too dry. It should be thick and sticky when you're finished.
  6. Line an 8x8 baking pan with parchment. Dump crust into the pan and press it out as evenly as possible. It helps to use a miniature rolling pin or the bottom of a drinking glass!
  7. Dump the next layer on top the smoothed crust and spread it out. Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty – this recipe calls for it!
  8. Set the pan into the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  9. If desired, make the chocolate drizzle while the bars chill. Melt ⅓ c. vegan chocolate chips in a double boiler.
  10. Lightly drizzle the chocolate across the bars and sprinkle hemp seeds over the top.
  11. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

 

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68 comments

    • thefitchen 26 February, 2014 at 09:31 Reply

      Yep! As long as they’re not in a hot car, they do just fine. They soften up a bit from the fridge temperature, but no melt-age. :D

  1. Ester 28 February, 2014 at 23:38 Reply

    These look so good! I love the idea of a “flax egg” to help bind the bar. Great idea! I will have to try that for my next bar recipe! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Erika 11 March, 2014 at 17:42 Reply

    These are seriously the most beautiful homemade protein bars I’ve seen on any blog!! Definitely going to give these a try–I’ll let you know how they turn out!

    • thefitchen 11 March, 2014 at 17:44 Reply

      Wow! You are too kind! They are a home run, for sure. Everyone in my entire family loved them. Can’t wait to hear what you think!

  3. ana 21 April, 2014 at 13:09 Reply

    Can I have calorie counts? I buy store bought protein bars mainly because I want to know calorie stats, but i would love to make these!!!

  4. john Fleming 15 May, 2014 at 16:07 Reply

    one change in the recipe you might want to make is the 1/4 cup of honey – honey isn’t vegan

    • thefitchen 15 May, 2014 at 16:49 Reply

      Thanks for the tip! As you’ll see, it says agave OR honey. We purposely left the decision up to each vegan or non-vegan. Because not everyone thinks that eating bee poop harms bees.

      • Jill 15 May, 2014 at 23:07 Reply

        Just FYI, it’s not always about whether you’re hurting animals. Using animals as commodities is not vegan.

        • thefitchen 16 May, 2014 at 16:24 Reply

          That’s why we included agave, then mentioned the honey option. It’s a good note to provide readers with. Some people prefer to use honey over agave. Not everyone is a vegan and not everyone can tolerate agave, so we try to respect people with different dietary needs.

  5. coldupnorth 20 July, 2014 at 10:43 Reply

    Do we have to use gluten free flour? Not sure if you’re trying to accommodate gluten intolerance or if the gluten will screw up the consistency, binding, etc.

    I appreciate that you included the option of agave or honey. I can’t eat agave, so it’s always nice to know when there are substitutes that will maintain the integrity of the recipe, even if they’re not strictly vegan!

    • thefitchen 20 July, 2014 at 12:17 Reply

      I’ve only made it with gluten-free flour due to dietary needs, but I don’t think regular flour would cause any difference. Absolutely – we occasionally use agave in cooking, but typically, we prefer honey. This recipe can go either way! Hope you enjoy. :)

    • Jennifer 25 June, 2015 at 04:49 Reply

      Oats are gluten free. The only reason there are oats labelled gluten free is because some oats are processed in facilities that process gluten containing grains. For some people a little cross contamination can be a serious issue. For this particular recipe just go ahead and use plain old oat flour. Or do what I do and make your own oat flour from rolled oats.

  6. KK 5 August, 2014 at 13:54 Reply

    These look amazing! I tried to make them, but the base didn’t come together properly. Also wasn’t sure when to add the flax egg, as it’s not mentioned in the steps.

    • thefitchen 6 August, 2014 at 12:23 Reply

      So sorry for that confusion – I’ve corrected it to make it more clear. The flax egg goes into the dry ingredients when the other wet ingredients are added. Hope you try again with success!

  7. BT 22 August, 2014 at 16:51 Reply

    Maybe I’m calculating things incorrectly, but I estimate around 11g of protein per bar. Am I missing something? I really love the taste of these bars, but I’d like a bar with more protein.

    • thefitchen 23 August, 2014 at 20:33 Reply

      Hmmm… I’m not sure why we came up with such different results. We used MyFitnessPal and came up with 16 grams of protein. A lot of it depends on the brand of ingredients and the program that you use to calculate the nutritional facts. Sorry for any discrepancy – but glad you like the bars!

  8. Al 5 October, 2014 at 21:07 Reply

    These look yummy, I made them and the bottom was super crumbly and didn’t hold together. I think if I make these again I’ll just do the top layer-which is fantastic. Thanks!

    • thefitchen 6 October, 2014 at 19:10 Reply

      If necessary, add more brown rice syrup or 2 more apricots next time to make the crust less crumbly! Hope that helps. :)

  9. Lisa 29 January, 2015 at 10:13 Reply

    These are what I’m looking for! Was curious if you did a calorie study on how many calories per bar? I could always enter it into MyFitnessPal as a recipe, but wanted to ask. Thanks.

    • thefitchen 1 February, 2015 at 22:41 Reply

      Lisa –

      These end up being between 230 and 260 calories per bar depending on the ingredients and size that you go with. Enjoy!

    • thefitchen 6 March, 2015 at 14:31 Reply

      Hi Cecilia –

      So glad you enjoyed the bars! These are my go-to whenever I do homemade instead of store-bought. :)

  10. noelle 14 March, 2015 at 22:25 Reply

    These are, by far, my favorite protein bar recipe. I’m pretty sure its the texture of the crust which is hard to describe but makes me so very happy. For my last batch I added a tablespoon of wheat grass and barley grass so the filling came up this beautiful mint green. Added some 85% chocolate, some gojis and dried black currants which not only made them a super nutrient powerhouse but visually appealing, not to mention festive :)
    Thanks again for sharing the recipe.

  11. Emily 27 April, 2015 at 19:48 Reply

    Hey! I was wondering if the apricots could be subbed for dates? If so how many dates do you think I’ll need. These look delicious btw!!

    • thefitchen 28 April, 2015 at 10:57 Reply

      Hi Emily –

      Apricots are usually smaller, so I would say use 4-5 dates if you decide to substitute. Enjoy!

  12. Sara Groom 27 April, 2015 at 21:43 Reply

    I am thinking about making these and subbing Dates for the dried apricots and using less sweetener in the crust or is the rice syrup necessary for holding the crust together?…wondering if you experimented with other ingredients?

    • thefitchen 28 April, 2015 at 10:51 Reply

      Hi Sara –

      You could use dates instead of apricots, sure! I recommend using the rice syrup, though. It’s what holds everything together. Some thick, raw honey would probably work, if you are not strictly vegan. If you experiment and find something that works, please let me know! :)

      • Sara Groom 29 April, 2015 at 00:59 Reply

        Alright…I made these today. The crust turned out PERFECT, however the top layer did not set, I followed the recipe to a T :/ I am not sure if I can even salvage them, they are in the freezer right now. Any ideas? I am either thinking that I should just food process the whole thing together or maybe bake them for a bit?

        • thefitchen 29 April, 2015 at 13:22 Reply

          Hi Sara –

          They do require refrigeration to get the topping to set. You should be able to refrigerate them for a while and it will harden. Hopefully that helps!

  13. rachel 26 July, 2015 at 15:18 Reply

    Don’t have all the ingredients..
    Can maple syrup be used instead in brown rice syrup
    Almond milk instead of cocunut milk
    Can the honey and agave be skipped out
    And is there any other option besides for flax egg?

    • thefitchen 31 July, 2015 at 16:51 Reply

      Hi Rachel –

      Maple syrup should be ok instead of brown rice syrup. Almond milk will be fine and you can substitute honey for agave. You could use chia instead of flax to create the necessary binding component. :)

  14. Aahan 22 August, 2015 at 04:33 Reply

    Hi!

    Firstly, I loved your recipe!
    Secondly, I’m from India, and seeing you and Clark together really makes me happy. Great going!

    Since I recently started working out, I am really tempted to try out this recipe. However, my only concern is the uncooked oats flour and rolled oats. I don’t think my tummy will have a good time digesting it. Can you please suggest a remedy for this?

    Thanks!

  15. Marko 5 January, 2016 at 14:34 Reply

    Awesome – I ended up making these and they came out great. For anyone with a food processor, you can just blend rolled oats to make your own oat flour and you can also easily make your own peanut butter. I also ended up using almond milk instead of coconut and used some rice puffs.

    • thefitchen 5 January, 2016 at 14:38 Reply

      Marko –

      Thanks for commenting! Definitely easy to make your own flours in a food processor. :) Adding rice puffs is a great idea for some crunch!

  16. Roberta Conway 23 March, 2016 at 22:11 Reply

    Thought you’d might like to know these bars are not gluten free since they have a rice component to them. All grains have gluten. Our society just convienently forgets that with regards to rice as it tends to be a major component of “wheat gluten free” diets in the West.

    My husband, who is allergic to rice gluten, has had more reactions than I care to think about from well meaning people that say “oh it is gluten free, you’ll be fine” who don’t understand the basics of grain morphology.

    The recipe looks great to try other than the rice part.I’d just remove the gluten free part.

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